Why Care About Snakebite?
All photos in this section are used with permission from Robin James (c)2002.
See his wonderful photography at robinjamesnaturephoto.com.
Black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis)
Venomous - Neurotoxic
Over 100,000 people die from venomous snakebite globally each year. Snakebite is a significant problem for the rural poor in sub-Saharan Africa, and especially Kenya, where over 15,000 people die from snakebite annually. Those who do not die often need to have a limb amputated. This makes it difficult for them to work, and exacerbates their already tenuous standard of living.
Transportation to a hospital can be difficult due to the lack of adequate roads in some parts of Kenya. Recently, a child aged 7 died in a county to the north of ours because the nearest hospital was over 200 km away.
Puff Adder (Bitis arietans)
Venomous - Cytotoxic
Boomslang (Dispholidus typus)
Venomous - Hemotoxic
Because many of those most affected by snakebite are living in poverty, they are often unable to pay for expensive treatment, so they visit traditional healers instead and will often die from a serious envenomation due to inadequate treatment. Even if they do go to a hospital, the hospital may not have antivenom, and the staff may not be trained to administer it properly if they do. To read more about how our people have been affected by snakebite, click here.
We have compassion on these people affected by snakebite, and also on the snakes which serve such an important purpose in the ecosystem. Many snakes die needlessly because people kill them indiscriminately. For example, many people confuse the harmless Battersby's green snake (right) with the deadly green mamba, and the snake is killed. We want to help reduce the human-snake conflict by teaching people to recognize the non-venomous and venomous snakes in our community, how to avoid snakes by learning about their habits and their habitats, and what to do in the event of a snakebite. We hope in the future that antivenom will become available for people at a cost they can afford.
Battersby's Green Snake (Philothamnus battersbyi)
Harmless - Non-Venomous